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Incentive mechanisms for behavior change

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Researchers in Prof. Balaji Prabhakar’s laboratory have developed a micro-raffle incentive system to increase and reward desirable behavior in societal networks. This scalable mechanism pools the savings realized from many individual’s behaviors - such as off-peak commuting decreased energy consumption recycling or consumer loyalty – and splits the cumulative reward money into large payments won by a few individuals at random. For example rather than each person receiving $0.05 for recycling a bottle a mini-raffle would award $50 to one person every time a cumulative of 1000 bottles is recycled. The basic system includes a user interface that can recommend behaviors; data mining for economic and consumption pattern analysis; and algorithms to determine demand elasticity and optimize the reward structure. These components can be adapted to create loyalty to a certain desired behavior in a wide variety of settings. Stage of Research: The inventors have implemented this system to successfully attract a large number of commuters to travel at off-peak hours in pilot programs designed for Bangalore India and on the Stanford University campus. Ongoing Research: The inventors are in the advanced stages of developing an interface for implementing random rewards in a scalable distributed and asynchronous fashion through a game interface.

Benefits:

1) Strong motivation - large random rewards are more attractive than small deterministic ones 2) Scalable - can be used with large groups 3) Asynchronous and distributed award mechanism to minimize user overhead

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